Paul D. Running was born in Sandpoint, Idaho, on March 22, 1923, the fifth son of Rev. Alfred Running and Sophia Olsen Running. After graduation from high school in Zumbrota, Minnesota, in 1940, Running enrolled at St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota), studying there until 1942. From 1943-1944, Running attended Carleton College (Northfield, Minnesota) and Yale University. After service in the U.S. Army during World War II in Texas and the central Pacific as an Airborne Radio Marine Officer, he returned to St. Olaf and received his BA degree in 1947. He attended the State University of Iowa (now University of Iowa) between 1946 and 1951, receiving his MFA in painting in 1949 and PhD in art history in 1951. His dissertation was entitled, "The Flagellation of Christ: A Study in Iconography."
Beginning in 1949, Running taught drawing, painting and art history at a number of institutions including State University of Iowa, Northern Michigan College, St. Olaf College, Valley City College in North Dakota, and East Carolina College in Greenville, North Carolina. Running served as Professor of Drawing and Painting at Bowling Green State University from 1956 until his retirement in 1992. In addition to teaching, Running was a tour conductor in Europe for New York and Minnesota travel companies (1952 and 1958) and a trans-Atlantic shipboard art lecturer and English instructor for universities, employed by the Council on Student Travel, New York (summers 1957 and 1960). He also developed and conducted art programs in Europe for BGSE in the summers of 1962, 1963, 1965, and 1967. He frequently visited Europe, painting there throughout many summers. Running died on January 20, 2013 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Since 1948, Running exhibited in numerous area and national shows. He had at least 20 solo exhibitions in venues such as the following: Greenville, North Carolina; Toledo Museum of Art; Cortland College, New York; St. Olaf College; Valley City College, North Dakota; Messiah College, Pennsylvania; Hesston College, Kansas; the University of Dubuque, Iowa; William Rainey Harper College, Chicago, Illinois; Concordia College, Minnesota; Bluffton College, Ohio; Channing Gallery, Toledo, Ohio; and, Mileti Alumni Center, Bowling Green, Ohio. His paintings were exhibited at Luther College in April, 1982, in a solo show focused on oil and watercolor paintings resulting from trips to Switzerland, France and Spain.
Works by Running in the Luther College Fine Arts Collection include watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings. Harbor at Mykonas (1961) is an acrylic landscape donated by President Emeritus Elwin and Helen Farwell. Weggis, Switzerland (1963), a watercolor purchased directly from the artist for the Fine Arts Collection, represents a resort town on Lake Lucerne where the artist and his family often visited. Two different oil portraits of President Emeritus Elwin Farwell (both 1981) were also purchased from Running at the time of Farwell’s retirement from the presidency at Luther College. These paintings were submitted to the Catalogue of American Portraits maintained by the National Portrait Gallery. The oil painting of Helen Farwell (1995) was donated to the Fine Arts Collection that year by the Farwells. It was intended to be displayed in the Helen Farwell Lounge in Farwell Hall at Luther College.